The final game of Major League Soccer's opening weekend is a regional rivalry between the Vancouver Whitecaps and Portland Timbers on Sunday night at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah.
The Whitecaps are sharing the home of rival Real Salt Lake to start this season, with COVID-19 still restricting travel between Canada and the United States.
The Timbers enter the game having already played two meaningful matches in the CONCACAF Champions League this month. They fairly easily handled Central American club C.D. Marathon in a two-leg first round series, and advanced to the North American regional club championship quarterfinals.
But before those start, Portland opens the MLS regular season. The Timbers look to continue their winning streak against Vancouver.
The Timbers have won three straight matches against the Whitecaps, and another win would be the longest winning streak against Vancouver in Timbers history.
The Whitecaps have a history of being tough to beat on opening day. They set an MLS record by winning their first four season-opening matches from 2011 to 2014. But since 2015 they are 1-4-1 openers, with losses in the last two.
Timbers head coach Giovanni Savarese will not have a few key players in Sebastian Blanco, Andy Polo and Jeremy Ebobissie. Blanco and Ebobissie are coming back from injuries.
The Timbers finished third in the Western Conference last season and made the playoffs. The Whitecaps finished one spot out of the postseason in ninth.
"We've already played two matches. Having already played two games will put us in a good situation to make sure we start competitive," Savarese said.
"You already are tested. In two games, there's something you need to get out of those two games and it's very competitive. It's a positive thing to have gone through."
Whitecaps coach Marc Dos Santos said his club isn't looking to experiment with things this season. That was for last season.
"We want to maximize and really build something here," Dos Santos said. "Now we know who we want to be and where we want to go. There's a belief in the direction we want to take."
--Field Level Media